A Gospel Response to Government - Part 9

Romans 13:1-7

Tom Pennington  •  July 5, 2020
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Romans chapter 13. You probably read as I did this past Wednesday, Seattle Police dispersed the protestors from the area in Seattle originally known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. More recently known as CHOP, Capitol Hill Occupation Protest. You probably also saw that the situation inside that protest zone was growing worse by the day. In fact, over the last 2 weeks before the Seattle Police moved in 5 people in that area were shot. One resident who has lived there, who is not part of the protest, but who's apartment in that area, told a news source on Wednesday that living there had, "been incredibly unstable and violent around the clock for the past 2 weeks." This same person went on to share an excerpt to the letter that his apartment managers, the company that manages the apartment where he lived, had written to the residents of that complex on Tuesday of this past week before the police moved in on Wednesday. This is what the letter to the people in that apartment complex said, "Since the occupation of the streets surrounding our building tenants have been subjected to violence, threats, vandalism, noise, lewd conduct, public defecation, daily fights, and limited access to the building." That doesn't exactly sound like a place you'd want to live. I thought it was ironic as I read that those who claim to be opposed to the abuse of authority within a very short period of time came themselves to abuse those under their authority in the absence of rightful government. In fact, as I consider it, it seems to me that CHOP was a microcosm of life without government. Seneca related that during the reign of the emperor Nerva, it was said, "It is indeed bad to live under a prince with whom nothing is permitted, but much worse under one by whom everything is allowed."

Today in Romans 13 we learn that God established human government for some very important purposes. In the mind of God when he decided to allow what really is a flawed human organization, He is the one who put it into place, and He did so with some very specific goals and purposes in mind. We're learning this from Romans 13:1-7. I've entitled this paragraph A Gospel Response to Government. Now we've noted that the paragraph begins with a universal command to submit to government. Look at verse 1, "Every person [literally every soul in the Greek text, that is, everyone without exception] is to be in subjection to the governing authorities." Then beginning with the next sentence there in the middle of verse 1 and running down through verse 6 Paul gives us a series of reasons that we should submit to government. So, he starts with the universal command and then unfolds the reasons that we should do so. We've looked at several of these, let me just remind you of the 4 we've examined together

Number one, God established the principle and structures of all human authority. Whether it's within marriage or within the home or in the church or within society as a whole. God is the one who established this principle of human authority. Verse 1 says "For there is no authority except from God" He's the one who has established both the principle and the structures of all human authority.

Secondly, we discovered that God has appointed all who currently occupy positions of authority within government. He gets very personal at the end of verse 1 in that he talks about individuals. He talks about the people who occupy positions of authority in government. Notice how verse 1 ends, "and those [plural]which exist [the ones who exist in power] are established by God." Now we talked about that of course, God does that in some cases directly. He does that in other cases by allowing Satan to put in positions of authority, those who are contrary to God and contrary to God's law. And He does so for His own purposes.

Thirdly, we learned a third reason to submit to government, is if you refuse to submit to a government official, without biblical grounds, and we learned that in the very first message. Primarily it's this, unless that government official is commanding you to disobey a clear command of God, if you refuse to submit to a government official you are opposing God's ordinance. Verse 2, "Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves."

A fourth reason that we learned to submit to government, is that God has assigned government the role of maintaining order by punishing evil and praising good. That's the message of verse three. Notice what he writes there, "For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same."

Now today I want us to consider a fifth reason to submit government. The end of last week I just mentioned it, but we didn't look into it at all. And it's this, God established government and appointed rulers for our good. And this is the message of the first sentence of verse four. Notice what Paul writes, "for it is a minister of God to you for good." Now in the NAS you'll notice that the pronoun that's used here is "it," "it" meaning government is a minister of God. If you're here this morning with an English Standard Version, the ESV, you'll notice the pronoun in that case is "he", "he" is a minister of God, meaning an individual who is in authority in government. "It" is a minister of God or "he" is a minister of God, which is it? Well, either is possible linguistically, we can't make the decision based on the original language, rather it's context. If the second half of verse 3 is about our response to government as an entity or government as a whole then we should translate the beginning of verse 4 as "it", "it" is a minister of God to you for good. If the end of verse 3 as I taught you last week and I believe is what Paul is saying, is about our response to individual government officials, an individual government official, then we should translate verse 4 as "he", "he" is a minister of God to you for good. But that having been said let me say there is very little difference ultimately in meaning. Because for Paul and his Hebrew way of thinking, government is not exclusively a philosophical idea. He doesn't think of sort of a philosophy of government here. That's not what's going on. Instead for Paul and for every sort of Hebraic way of thinking government consists of rulers, verse 3, rulers. And verse 6 those rulers individually are, notice the plural, servants of God.

So, this morning as I work my way through this message, I'm going to use the ideas of government and its rulers and officials basically interchangeable. Because I think both are implied, government as an entity as an existing organism or organization but also the individuals who sit in positions of authority and power. Paul seems to go back and forth between those two concepts in this passage.

So, let's look at what he says. He says, "he" is a minister. The word minister is a familiar New Testament word. It's the word from which we get our English word, deacon. And, of course, it's used in the context of the church for those who serve or lead ministries of service. But, in secular Greek, this word deacon is used of civic officials and that's the intent here. I mean even today we talk about those who are involved in government as civil servants, that's the same idea. In the Septuagint, that is in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament that was made 100 to 200 years before Christ was the Bible of the New Testament, it's used in Esther of court officials. It's used in Jerimiah 25:9 of Nebuchadnezzar. And in Isaiah 45:1 of King Cyrus. So, it has the idea, ministers here, that we sometimes will hear, particularly in a British context, will talk about ministers of government, government ministers. That's the idea behind the word here.

Now let me give this Greek sentence to you because I think you get some of the sense of what Paul is stressing. In Greek, the first word in verse 4 is "of God". That's the stress "of God," and it's there for emphasis. So, let me translate it for you literally from the Greek text. Of God, a servant is he to you for good, of God a minister he is to you for good. That's the stress. In other words, rulers at every level of government are ministers of God. Whether they serve Him well or poorly, whether they serve Him consciously or unconsciously, whether they serve Him in humble submission or in active rebellion, still they serve Him, just as Satan himself does.

I was struck this week with what Moses says about how the judges in Israel were to think. He tells them this in Deuteronomy 1 but is repeated in 2 Chronicles 19:6, listen to what Moses said to the judges who would govern God's people, "He said to the judges, 'Consider what you are doing for you do not judge for man but for the Lord who is with you when you render judgment. Now then let the fear of the Lord be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the Lord our God will have no part in unrighteousness or partiality or the taking of a bribe.'" Moses said, listen understand this, when you're acting as a government official, specifically in that context, a judge, then you are to do so in the awareness that you are not acting on your behalf. And ultimately you are not even acting on behalf of the government, you are acting on behalf of God. If you're a government official of any kind here this morning, you need to understand that let that sink into your mind. It matters to God how you conduct your business that you have been assigned to do. You are His minister and you will give an account to Him for how you've carried out that ministry. Now notice what he goes on to say. He says a minister to you, that could mean to Christians only, to the Christians in the church in Rome and to us. Or it could mean to you meaning, all mankind. I think since verse 1 says that every soul is to be subject to the government, I think it's best to see government as not merely benefiting just us as believers but benefiting all mankind. I think that's the emphasis here, all people. So, look again at verse 4, "for he is [that is every individual government official] a minister [a deacon] of God to you [that is all mankind] for good." God's intended result for government is our good or our benefit.

Now Paul has already established for us that government was ordained by God. But the question is why? Well, the Bible identifies several purposes for good that God had in mind when He established human government. And I want in the rest of our time together to unpack those. Some of them are here in Romans 13, there are a few of them that will be in other places. But, when he says for good, for our benefit in what sense? Let's look at these purposes for good that God had in mind behind human government.

First of all, government exists to express God's common grace. Look again at verse 4, "for it [government or "he" every individual government official] is a minister of God to you [that is all mankind] for good." Now when God does good to all including unbelievers, theologians call that common grace. It's anything but common, what they mean by common grace is that it is God's goodness, this would be a definition of common grace, it is God's goodness by which He does good and provided temporal blessings both to believers but even to unrepentant unbelieving sinners. In other words, when God does good to people who are His enemies it is an expression of His common grace, His goodness toward those who have not experienced His saving grace. Government is part of God's common grace. Gilcrist in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, in his article in government says this, "The state may be considered an expression of God's common grace extended to all mankind." That's exactly what Paul is saying to us here. It is God's minister to all of us, to everybody on this planet, for good. That is common grace.

Now it's important for us to get this to understand this because let's just be honest Christians are some of the worst complainers on the planet about government. Often that's because we want a better or even a Christian government. I hate to tell you this but that's not going to happen. It's happened a handful of times in human history. In fact, if you go back to even Israel and you go back to the government God established there, only 10 of the kings are called good and some of them with quotation marks. Most of them were terribly bad. Folks there are no perfect governments and good ones are rare. Remember Paul is writing this chapter when Nero is the emperor over the Roman empire and over the city where these people try to worship and serve. So, Paul's point here is that even when government is bad and it usually is and even when it's rulers are not godly and they usually are not, even when we disagree with the laws and the policies that are passed and we often don't, government is still an expression of God's common grace. But how exactly? How is government a blessing, how is it a minister of God to us for good? Well the rest of the purposes that we are going to consider together explain how human government, how our government is a blessing. So, let's look at the rest of the purposes together.

The second divine purpose for government is to restrain evil behavior. Notice verse 3, "For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil." Now understand that we looked at this verse in detail last time so I'm not going to spend a lot of time here. But rulers produce fear, the Greek word is "phobos" from which we get our word phobia. Rulers produce fear in those tempted to do evil. How? By punishing those who break the law and by threatening to punish those who are considering breaking the law. When government executes justice on actual law breakers and it does so in a timely way, and I know this is going to run contrary to what you heard in government class, but listen to God over what you heard in government class. When government executes justice on actual law breakers it serves as a deterrent. Listen to what God says, Deuteronomy 17:13, it says, the context, is when a person who has acted presumptuously is put to death, verse 13 says, "Then all the people will hear and be afraid, and will not act presumptuously again." Proverbs 21:15, "The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous but is terror to the workers of iniquity." Justice is a terror to the workers of iniquity. Ecclesiastes 8:11, "Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil." When justice isn't done and when it isn't done in a timely way, it only encourages people to do evil. When government is functioning properly government restrains evil. How? Let me tell you it's not by education, although I'm all for education, government restrains evil, according to this passage by fear by fear of punishment.

Wayne Grudem writes, "There is much evil in the world that is irrational and can only be restrained by force because it will not be deterred by reason or education." We see this, I mean whenever there is a temporary state of anarchy, you can see what people would do given the opportunity. If there were no restraint by government if there was no fear of punishment. We've seen this unfold over the last several weeks. Not with the protest, but with the riots that accompanied some of them. Sheila and I saw this firsthand when we lived in LA. There were riots at one point and it became clear during those riots that civilization is a thin veneer over the surface of man's depravity. I watched people destroy, steal, set fire to homes, fire their guns on police, on fireman who were showing up to put out the fires and even on ambulances who were trying to take wounded people to the hospital. I watched them carry off everything that wasn't bolted down. I watched as gangs seized the opportunity to exact revenge on their rivals. Folks, that is what would exist without government. Government restrains evil by fear, fear of punishment. Robert Haldane a great commentator in the Book of Romans writes this,

"The institution of civil government is a dispensation of mercy and its existence is so indispensable that the moment it ceases under one form it reestablishes itself in another. The world ever since the fall has been in such a state of corruption and depravity that without the powerful obstacle presented by civil government to the selfish and malignant passions of men it would be better to live among the beasts of the forest than in human society. As soon as its restraints are removed man shows himself in his real character. When there was no king in Israel every man did that which was right in his own eyes."

Folks government exists by God's design to restrain evil behavior. And to do so by the fear of punishment.

Another purpose of government is to promote good behavior. Verse 3 goes on to say, "Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same." As we discovered last time, normally government treats peaceful law-abiding citizens well there are of course exceptions. Government officials can abuse their power. But as a rule, if you are a good citizen usually you don't have to worry about or be afraid of the government. In fact, sometimes officials at various levels of government publicly recognize and commend those who manifest certain virtues. Sometimes they are biblical virtues other times they're not. And this is what government was designed to do. 1 Peter 2:13 and 14, Peter says, "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution." Then he says this "…as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right." You see most governments however evil or corrupt recognize worthy accomplishments that benefit others in the nation and that's one of the God given purposes of government.

A fourth purpose of government is to protect the safety of its citizens. I'm just going to touch on this verse and the point here because we're going to look at it in more detail next week. But government is to protect the safety of its citizens and it does so in 2 ways. First of all, by punishing its citizens who practice evil. Verse 4 goes on to say, "But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil." Government officials are deacons of God. Serving Him in what way? Avengers who bring God's wrath to bear, in a temporal sense, on the one practicing evil. Government's role in punishing those who do evil is crucial to the survival of society. John Calvin writing in The Institutes of The Christian Religion says this, "From experience we thoroughly agree with the statement of Solan. [Solan by the way was an Athenian philosopher] That all commonwealths are maintained by reward and punishment. Take these away and the whole discipline of cities collapses and is dissolved." Government exists, in part, to punish the citizens who do evil and protects the other citizens in so doing. It also protects our safety by maintaining armed forces that guard against outside threats. I hope to address this next time but for now just notice that it's implied in governments bearing a sword. Not only to execute justice on its own citizens but to defend its citizens as well. Under the Mosaic law an individual could use force, even deadly force in self-defense. The same is true for governments. Governments have a God given right to defend their people using force and even deadly force. But folks again let's be realistic without the US Military we would be exposed to enemy states such as Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. And without the military and our intelligence services we would be an even easier target for other enemies such as terrorists and terrorist organizations. Government exists to protect the safety of its citizens both from those within the culture who do evil and from those outside who would do harm to us as well.

There's a fifth purpose behind human government. It's to promote the general good and welfare of its people. Again, notice verse 4, "for it is a minister of God to you for good." For your good, for the good of the people who are under government. In what way? There are a lot of ways that government promotes the general good and welfare but let me give you the two sort of obvious ones that jump off the page at me. First of all, government does this by providing necessary public services through the taxes that we pay. Paul is going to get to that in verses 6 and 7. Notice what he writes, "For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this [everything that's in this passage] very thing. Render to all what is due them; tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom." In other words implied in the command to pay taxes is the implication, listen to me carefully, that much of what government spends its money on, not all, but much of what it spends its money on is part of its God given purpose. It's part of the role of government to provide public services, such as public works, sanitation, transportation, public health, economic guidelines and rules, standards of weights and measures, and so forth. Government also promotes the general good and welfare of its people by ensuring an ordered society where its citizens can live in tranquility and peace.

Turn to 1 Timothy 2, we'll come back to this text when we consider our responsibilities to government. But notice Paul says here we are to pray 1 Timothy 2:1 we're to pray, verse 2 "for kings and all who are in authority." Pray what? Well, verse 4 we're to pray for their salvation. God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. And why? Verse 2, "so that we may lead a tranquil and quite life in all godliness and dignity." You see it's part of governments role to produce an ordered society in which its citizens can live a tranquil and quiet life. And in our case, we pursue godliness in that tranquility. Jeremiah 29:7 you remember, Jeremiah wrote to the exiles that had been taken into Babylon and he says this to them, "Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, [this is God speaking] and pray to the Lord on its behalf; [pray to the Lord on behalf of Babylon. Why?] for in its welfare you will have welfare." That's the idea here. When government exercises its duty and produces an ordered society it allows its citizens to live in tranquility and peace.

There's a sixth purpose for human government. And that is to protect the afflicted, needy, and oppressed. Yes, this is part of the role of government and its officials. Turn back to Psalm 72. I read this Psalm several weeks ago. This Psalm is a Psalm of Solomon, there's some dispute about whether it's written by Solomon or for Solomon. But regardless, it details what the righteous king was to be like, what his reign was to be like. And of course, it was to be the goal and aspiration of every king in Israel. But it is only perfectly fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ, the perfect king who's coming. But notice here's the responsibility of a righteous king, verses 1 through 4:

Give the king Your judgments, O God, and Your righteousness to the king's son. May he judge Your people with righteousness and Your afflicted with justice. Let the mountains bring peace to the people, and the hills, in righteousness. May he vindicate the afflicted of the people save the children of the needy and crush the oppressor.

Go down to verse 12:

For he will deliver the needy when he cries for help, the afflicted also, and him who has no helper. He will have compassion on the poor and needy, and the lives of the needy he will save. He will rescue their life from oppression and violence, and their blood will be precious in his sight.

Now folks, I understand being against big government. But don't let politics keep you from being honest with the Scripture. Government, according to this passage and others, has a divinely ordained responsibility to care for the poor and the oppressed, and to protect them from the abuses of the wealthy and the powerful. Israel's kings were often commanded to do this. Jeremiah 22:3, "Thus says the Lord, "Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place." Jeremiah 22:15 & 16, "Do you become a king because you are competing in cedar? [In other words, are you a king because you build great things for yourself?] Did not your father eat and drink [yes, he enjoyed life] and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; then it was well. Is not that what it means to know Me? Declares the Lord." But God didn't just demand that just of Israel's kings, He demanded it of pagan kings. You remember the confrontation in Daniel 4 when Daniel shows up to explain the vision that Nebuchadnezzar had seen about the tree getting chopped down that represented him and his rule. At the end of that listen to the little sermon that Daniel preaches to Nebuchadnezzar, this is Daniel 4:27, "Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you; break away now from your sins [listen to this] by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity." Here's a pagan king and God says listen, you need to repent of the fact that you're not concerned about the needs of the people. Now look I get it, the New Testament is clear, Paul is clear in 2 Thessalonians 3, that if an able-bodied person won't work, he shouldn't eat. But that doesn't mean at the same time there shouldn't be genuine concern for those who are truly needing. That is a responsibility that government has.

A seventh divine purpose for human government, is to reveal God's government. God determined that government would actually tell us about Himself. Have you ever thought about that? What does government tell us about God? It tells us two things. First of all, it tells us about the fact of God's government. When we see human government, it underscores the fact that we are under a larger government, the government of God even though it's invisible and cannot be seen. Psalm 103:19, "The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all." In Scripture our God is called King, Ruler, Leader, Despot, and Judge just to name a few. He has a government and He rules over the physical universe, over the intelligent universe, and over the moral universe. He rules over absolutely everything. And folks, human government, however imperfect it is, it exists as a living illustration of God's government.

Government also reveals the character of God's government. You say, "In what way would our government reveal the character of God's government." Here it is. Everything that God demands of human government, everything that God demands of our government is a perfect reflection of His own rule. In other words, don't look at what our nation does, look at what it's supposed to do. Look at the list I just went through and you get a picture of what God does in His rule. For example, He executes justice perfectly. He punishes evil doers. Exodus 34:7 "…He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished." He praises and rewards those who do well. Ephesians 6:8, "knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord." He defends and protects the needy and the oppressed. Psalm 146:7, "Who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free." He also promotes the good and welfare of His subjects. I love Acts 14:17, where Paul says to a bunch of idolaters, "and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness." Today because of the fall and sin, human government is a terribly imperfect picture of the rule of God and yet it is in fact a revelation of God. It reveals the very fact that God rules. Just as you and I can't escape from the reality that we live under a government and are accountable to that government, we are more certainly under the government of God.

I mean if you want to get out from under sort of the restraints of the US Government you can pack up your family and move to Idaho or Montana and you can pretend there's no federal government. Sadly, there are people who do that. By the way this isn't a criticism of Idaho or Montana. It's the people who do this, the people who move their families there saying well I'm going to cast off the shackles of government. Listen you can do that, and you can pretend they don't exist, but they will find you. Because it's a reality they will catch up with you eventually. And the same way you can pretend that you don't live under the rule of God's law and His government, but you can't escape the reality. Maybe this is how you think. Maybe you try to hold God at arm's length and you say, "Listen I'm going to do what I want and live my own way and it's not going to affect anybody. I[m going to move spiritually to Idaho. And I'm going to pretend God doesn't exist and doesn't have any interest in my life." Well you can pretend all you want but a day of reckoning is coming when you will stand before your king and judge. Your only hope, my only hope, is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's to humble yourself before your rightful king and say, "You have every right to tell me what to do in every detail of my life. You made me. You created me. You sustain my life. You've given me every good thing I have, and I have rebelled against You as an enemy." And humble yourself and seek the forgiveness that's found only because a God of justice carried out His justice and perfection in Jesus Christ on the cross and then He raised him from the dead. That's your only hope to be reconciled to your king and if you refuse to do that, again, pack up your bags and move your spiritual heart to a spiritual Idaho. But God will find you and one day you will stand before Him. If you're in Christ take heart because a day is coming when you will live under a perfect government because it will be ruled by Jesus Christ our Lord. And He will do every one of these things we just studied together, and He'll do it perfectly.

So, what are some of the lesson from our study today? Let me just point out a couple for you briefly as we bring our time together to a close:

  1. Let the Spirit of God renew your mind toward government and its leaders with what Scripture teaches. Cast off the cultural stuff you bought, wherever you got it let your mind be re-informed by what the Scriptures teach. Government is an expression of God's common grace for our good. That is true today in a fallen world with flawed systems controlled by fallen sinful ungodly people. It's still for our good. Government is a minister of God.

  2. Thank God for government, for your government. Have you ever done that? We complain a lot, but have you ever said, "God thank you for government, thank You that we don't live in anarchy. Thank You for the way You use government around this planet to restrain evil."

  3. Pray that our government will fulfill its purpose as well. Take a look at this list and say, God our government is so short of these purposes You had in mind, but would You work in the hearts of those in leadership? To produce a change where these things would become their passion.

  4. This is also a test, take the test. Your response to the human authorities in your life is an accurate measurement of your response to God's authority. Why do I say that? Because God is the one who established the authority and He's the one who commands your response to that authority. So, the way you respond to the human authorities in your life is a perfect barometer of your response to God. So, if you're a wife, your response to your husband is a measurement of your response to God. If you're a child living in a home with parents then your response to your parents, you are to obey your parents in the Lord, your response to your parents is a measurement of your response to God. If you find yourself constantly in rebellion against your parents, listen, look in the mirror. That's not their problem, that's your problem, and it's not between you and them, it's between you and God. Because He's the one who established human authority. It's true of members to elders and as we're learning here in Romans 13, it's true of all of us in our response to government. Look at your response to government. Look at your thoughts, look at the words you speak, look at the posts you make. Look at the things you 'like' and ask yourself what does that show about your response to God's authority in your life.

May God help us to understand that government is a good gift for our benefit, even flawed, fallen, sinful government.

Let's pray together. Father thank you for these potent lessons. Lord what could be more appropriate in these days than what we are learning together from Romans 13. Forgive us O God. Forgive us for demonstrating our rebel hearts against You by the rebel hearts we demonstrate toward the human authorities You put in place. Lord may we repent, may we seek Your forgiveness and may we, by Your Spirit, have a renewed mind about our government. Lord I pray for those who may be here who are not in Christ. Lord help them see that just as surely as they can't run from our human government, they cannot run from Yours. Lord don't let them live a life of pretense, imagining that they can somehow skirt Your authority and get away with it. May they humble themselves before You and find grace in Jesus Christ. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.